Cholesterol Levels and What They Actually Mean

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Cholesterol Levels and What They Actually Mean

You’ve got the numbers back from your screening. Now what? Here’s a short list to help you interpret all that science.

blog-cholesterolYou’ve got the numbers back from your screening. Now what? Here’s a short list to help you interpret all that science, (but of course there are variables and attendant health conditions that can impact or modify these readings.) The information below is general, and not meant to take the place of a physician’s consulation.

A complete fasting lipoprotein profile will reflect your status in four areas associated with cholesterol health:

Total blood/serum cholesterol. If the number is less than 200 mg/DL you are in the desirable area and (without other risk factors) have a low chance of coronary disease. If the number is 200-239 mg/dL, you are considered borderline high risk. If you have a level of 240 mg/dL or over, you are in the high risk category and typically have double the risk of heart disease as someone with an under 200 level.

HDL (good) cholesterol. In this case, the higher, the better. 50 to 60 mg/dL is the number you want to see. It means you are in the average range. Higher than 60 mg/dL indicates greater protection against heart disease. Increase your HDL number by being active, a healthy weight and tobacco free.

LDL (bad) cholesterol. The lower your LDL, the lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. This level is probably the most significant of all four in terms of overall heart health. Less than 100 mg/dL is optimal. 100-129 is good. 130-159 is borderline and anything above 160 is problematic.

Triglycerides. Triglicerides are a form of fat. Usually, if you have a high number, it directly reflects to an overall high cholesterol level. Normal is less than 150 mg/dL. Borderline to high is 150-199. High ranges from 200-499 and anything over 500 is definitely something to discuss with a physician. Your main therapeutic approach to lower triglycerides is to control your weight, lower alcohol intake, start a heart healthy diet (low in sugars and fats) and cut out any and all tobacco products.

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